MrBarrierYou arrive at a nightclub, dressed to the nines and ready to meet someone interesting. You investigate the general area first, getting a sense of who’s at the bar, who’s on the dance floor, and who’s hanging back by the door.

You spot a guy by the bar. He looks really tender. You walk around him in circles a few times, checking him out.

But you are not the aggressive type, and you don’t feel comfortable walking right up to him and telling him what you are looking for… a nice, stable type of guy, who wants to support and protect you no matter what you are doing.

Yeah, way too much information. That might scare him off, setting off his natural defenses. You prefer the indirect approach.

So you edge in and do a little something to catch his attention. You twirl your ankle around, wiggle your toes, and bend and straighten your knees. Then, you take a breath. And wait.

Aha, a sign! A softening in his glance, a yielding in his posture, a invitation to go deeper.

Now you get a bit more direct, but definitely not invasive. You move in closer, smile and say hello. He smiles back.

You’ve just met Mr. Barrier.

Recognize this scenario? No, not (only) from your youthful past, but from your last MELT class! The story is actually about how we meet barriers, not just in our lives but in our bodies. How do we approach those areas that are tender and sore and in need of attention?

In MELT, we first investigate a body part with a gentle sweep of the roller in a small area. We call this gliding. As we glide, for example on the upper calf, we often discover areas that are painful or lumpy. These are called Barriers, areas of restriction where not enough fluid is getting in or out to nourish the cells. Basically, they are localized pockets of internal drought caused by accumulated stress in the connective tissue.

Rather than dive in or press hard, we circle around the barrier to define it’s perimeter. We understand in MELT that a painful area is often not the criminal, but rather the victim of imbalance. There is no reason to get aggressive with the victim! If we do, we risk turning on our body’s protective mechanism, essentially working against our own nervous system.

After circling around, we rest on the edge of the Barrier and do an Indirect Shear to break up the adhesion from the edges inward. For the calves, the Indirect Shear is to point and flex or roll the ankle around. We can also do a Direct Shear by moving our calves slowly across the roller in a tiny range of motion.

After gliding and shearing, we do something very important. We WAIT for the tissue to respond to the pressure. This is where the magic happens. When I take my time, I can almost always feel the roller going a little deeper as my leg muscles release all resistance. Ahhh.

And then we move on to a new area, seeking a new Mr. Barrier to MELT into. Yep, Barriers are as common as old boyfriends for many of us, in our calves and elsewhere.

Barriers can certainly linger and be troublesome. But the MELT approach offers a kinder, gentler and more respectful way to discharge their hold on us. It just might work in other areas of your life as well.

Now where’s my black leather skirt?